Siouxland’s little lost gems, Estherville

29 Apr

The other day a tourist was driving in the Iowa Lakes region to visit an area he hadn’t seen before looking for a particular state park, which is another story. That tourist, me, had driven to a small town in Siouxland listed as the address for a particular state park. However upon arriving at the destination, it wasn’t there, but in another community farther north. After a refreshment stop at a coffee shop, I continued driving and reached the community in question but no sign, or signs literally, of the park I was looking to find. I drove through this community and was headed out into the country again when I got the feeling I had missed my destination and it was somewhere near the community I had just visited.

When you drive into the country in Iowa, you are surrounded by a lot of agricultural land. You encounter a lot of small communities. But there is distance between some of these communities and I was in-between. Then I saw the building up the road, the lone pickup truck sitting outside and as I got closer knew someone was there who could probably help me find my destination. After pulling in and parking, I found an older gentleman sitting inside listening to an AM radio station. Country music was playing. He was in his 70’s or 80’s, dressed in bib overalls and sitting on a straight back wooden chair next to a card table. Inside the building was a boat, an older restored Farmall tractor, and other older farming implements. I told the gentleman I was lost. I have no pride. And that I was looking for a particular destination and he gave me directions. After thanking him and as I was leaving I noticed a sign on his building next to the door. It’s the kind of sign that gives you pause, and the more you think about it, the more you have to agree with it. Also on the sign was the name of a feed company.

My dad was a farmer and did that until he retired in his late 70’s, more due to health reasons than to wanting to actually retire. He worked hard at a hard job all his life. I told the gentleman my Dad would have liked that sign. And while getting into my vehicle the man yelled to me that he was the CEO. Like my Dad, he might have been spinning me a yarn. Or maybe not. When I got home I did a little search online to look up the name of this company and saw that it had originated in Estherville, Iowa. I also saw that the company was for all intent and purposes obsolete, having been purchased by a larger more corporate company.

As it probably is across America, small companies that started in small places and thrived, which also helped those communities thrive, are disappearing. The ever sought after model that bigger is better and the people and companies with the most at the end win. But sadly, it is one of Siouxland’s lost little gems.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Golden Sun Feeds Golden Sun Feeds Golden Sun Feeds

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